10/12/2012 06:34 pm ET

Table Talk: The Nobel Prizes

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

This week, the 2012 Nobel Prizes were awarded.

The prizes -- established at the turn of the century in the will of Alfred Nobel -- reward excellence in literature, the sciences and peace. Each laureate receives a medal, a diploma and the hefty sum of $1.2 million.

Recipients also gain the glory of membership in an elite circle that includes icons like Marie Curie (Physics, 1903), Albert Einstein (Physics, 1921), Ernest Hemingway (Literature, 1954), Martin Luther King, Jr. (Peace, 1961), John Steinbeck (Literature, 1962) and (recently) President Barack Obama (Peace, 2009).

This year’s honorees come from all around the world, and their work is opening doors in science, literature and beyond. Physics laureates Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland’s quantum work may help develop superfast computers -- and Chemistry laureates Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka were recognized for research that could improve “half of all medications.” In the field of Literature, popular Chinese novelist Mo Yan was honored. And today the Prize committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union for "the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

While all the original Nobels have been announced, there is one more prize for the committee to give out -- The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences, which was added in 1969 to commemorate Alfred Nobel and whose honoree will be announced on Monday morning. Until then, you can find out more about the laureates and their work on the Nobel Prize website.

Questions for discussion:
  • Whom would you nominate for a Nobel Prize?
  • Which one of the Nobel Prizes would you most want to win yourself?
  • What’s the award or accomplishment that you are most proud of?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.